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Learning to Teach in the Digital Age

New Materialities and Maker Paradigms in Schools


Sean Justice

Learning to Teach in the Digital Age tells the story of a group of K–12 teachers as they began to connect with digital making and learning pedagogies. Guiding questions at the heart of this qualitative case study asked how teaching practices engaged with and responded to the maker movement and digital making and learning tools and materials. Over the course of one school year, Sean Justice attended to the ebb and flow of teaching and learning at an independent K–12 girls school the northeastern United States. Teachers and administrators from across grade levels and academic domains participated in interviews and casual conversations, and opened their classrooms to ad hoc observations. In conducting the study, Justice interwove a sociomaterial disposition with new materialism, posthumanism, and new media theory. Methods were inspired by narrative inquiry and actor-network theory. Findings suggested that digital making and learning pedagogies were stabilizing at the school, but not in a linear way. Further, Justice suggests that the teaching practices that most engaged the ethos of twenty-first-century learning enacted a kind of learning we hear about from artists, writers, scientists, and mathematicians when they talk about what innovation feels like, leading to the proposition that a different kind of language is needed to describe the effects of digital materialities on teaching practice.
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Chapter 8. Music, Art, Engineering: Enacted Encounters


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In this chapter I’ll use the typology of contact points (Table 6) as an interpretative guide to understand whether and how teaching practices are adapting to, integrating with, or resisting digital making and learning pedagogies. What follows are narrative vignettes of events and conversations I observed and participated in. I’ve crafted participants’ stories so that a comparative analysis might call on features from the typology of Ways and Challenges. As discussed previously, the typology was gathered from what participants said and did while at school. In this sense, it might be loosely held as a catalog of teaching and learning configurations.

These vignettes were constructed with Laurel Richardson’s (2000, 2002) conventions of autoethnography in mind, particularly, first-person point of view, chronological unfolding of the plot, scene descriptors, and reported speech that conveys a sense of presence and attachment while “[meeting] literary criteria of coherence, verisimilitude, and interest” (Richardson, 2000, p. 931). I’m guided in this use of narrative as an interpretative device by several examples from cultural studies, including Maxine Greene’s (1995) evocations of fiction and poetry to explore the role of imagination in education; Steven Best and Douglas Kellner’s (2001) use of Thomas Pynchon’s 1973 novel Gravity’s Rainbow to grapple with postmodernism; and Katherine ← 167 | 168 → Hayles’s (2012) analysis of data structures as narrative constructs in the epic poetry of Mark Danielewski’s 2006 novel Only Revolutions. And from the field of science and...

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